Building Resilience through SMEs & Entrepreneurship
In line with the objective of improving the competitiveness and resilience of the economy, the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, in collaboration with the Economic Development Board, organized a one-day consultative workshop themed “Building Resilience through SMEs & Entrepreneurship’’ this Tuesday 29th September 2020 at the Shri Atal Bihari Vaipayee Tower, Ebene Cybercity.
The Minister of Finance, Economic Planning and Development, Dr. The Honourable Renganaden Padayachy and the Minister of Industrial Development, SMEs and Cooperatives, Honourable Soomilduth Bholah graced the opening ceremony by their presence as keynote speakers this morning.
The workshop gathered over 250 participants comprising representatives of both public and private sectors, industry associations as well as SMEs operating in various sectors of the economy.
In his keynote address, the Minister of Finance underlined that this workshop serves as an important platform for privileged dialogue between the Government, institutions, and the private sector with a view to foster the growth of SMEs. The Minister focused on two main areas, first, the Government’s strategy to stimulate the growth of SMEs, enhance their competitiveness and, second, the support plan implemented by Government to better equip SMEs to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19.
The Minister provided an overview of the current environment in Mauritius and pointed out that there are 138 500 SMEs in Mauritius, representing 99% of the total enterprises in the country, contributing to 50% of employment.
He further added that SMEs contribute to 12% of exports and should reach 18% in 2026 according to the 10-year SME Master Plan. Moreover, he argued that the dynamism of SMEs will stimulate economic growth, enhance the diversification of our economic base and drive innovation. The Minister of Finance also underlined that women and the youth have an instrumental role to play in the SME landscape. He emphasized that job creation, growth, inclusiveness, and innovation are intrinsically linked to the development of SMEs.
The Minister also expressed his satisfaction as Mauritius has been commended by the SME Competitiveness Outlook 2020 - COVID-19 for its exemplary implementation of a series of measures to assist SMEs including those from informal sector. The report has been jointly published by the International Trade Centre and the World Trade Organization. The report highlighted that Mauritius has extended concessional financing available to firms in the formal sector to companies that are informal and has deferred interest payments for informal-sector SMEs.
He also underscored the wide array of measures implemented by the Government to better equip SMEs to overcome the adverse impacts and challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.
He reaffirmed the Government’s unflinching commitment to support SMEs. In this context, through the ‘Plan de soutien’, institutions such as Economic Development Board, the State Investment Corporation, the Bank of Mauritius, SME Mauritius, SME Equity Fund, Investment Support Programme Ltd. have worked together to formulate and implement measures to assist SMEs during this crisis.
The Minister pointed out that more than MUR 7.5 billion have already been approved to assist SMEs.
Speaking about the CSG (Contribution sociale généralisée), the Honourable Minister highlighted that it will significantly strengthen the competitiveness of our enterprises, especially SMEs, as under this new scheme, 84% of SMEs will contribute less, according to the Mauritius Revenue Authority.
Click here to download the full speech delivered by Dr. The Honourable Renganaden Padayachy, Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development
On the other hand, the Minister of Industrial Development, SMEs and Cooperatives, Hon. Soomilduth Bholah reiterated his commitment to create the right ecosystem which will allow SMEs to reignite and rebound in these critical times marked by the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic. The Minister expressed his determination to formulate the right policies for a more holistic approach to overcome looming challenges for SMEs. He added that despite the severe impacts of the pandemic, we are paradoxically witnessing an unprecedented explosion in innovation and entrepreneurial energy across the African continent. As such, the new generation of young entrepreneurs and industrialists are devising innovative solutions to address challenges such as over reliance on imports, food security and redefinition of supply chains.
The Minister also stressed that the unprecedented situations created by COVID-19 have accentuated the need of Mauritius to review its imports and thus actualise its Import Substitution Strategy. To this end, SMEs are called upon to play a pivotal role in the revival of our economy by engaging in activities which will fuel the ISS.
The workshop also comprised round table discussions focused on the following themes:
- Encouraging Entrepreneurship and Technopreneurs
- Greening of SMEs
- Developing new markets, products, and services
- Streamlining access to schemes and other support mechanisms
- Upgrading Technology and Innovation
- Facilitating SME linkages for Integration and Inclusiveness
- Perspectives for Youth and Women in Entrepreneurship
- Improving SME internal capabilities for competitiveness
The event served as a unique platform to boost dialogue with stakeholders. The highly interactive round table sessions comprising insightful discussions will be translated into a full-fledged report which will be submitted to the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development and the Minister of Industrial Development, SMEs and Cooperatives for further discussions.